I believe that today could not have existed without the past. And the future inches closer as each day passes. As such, I am the collective embodiment of all the experiences that I have encountered throughout my life. I studied traditional Korean fine arts in Korea and spent 13 years in the U.S., immersing myself in the world of art and working in a museum. The time I spent in the U.S. will always be a special part of my life. I learned so much during that period and helped me grow as an artist and person, while enriching my deep appreciation of the beauty found within Korea.
Today, something that’s labeled as “traditional” is viewed to be old-fashioned and worn-out. What would people think if I they saw me painting with natural lacquer, which is a form of painting that dates back thousands of years? I suppose they would think that it’s not possible. Our ancestors in Korea knew very well about natural lacquer’s characteristics such as durability, resistance to water, oil, and chemicals, and more. So natural lacquer was used for weaponry, housing, furniture, and household goods. Due to its rarity, natural lacquer was available only to the upper class. In more recent times, natural lacquer could be found on furniture with inlaid mother of pearl within the home of the average family. But in today’s modern world, it’s rarely seen as people’s lifestyle has changed to be more reflective of Western culture. Natural lacquer paintings may be viewed as running against the grain of today’s infatuation with fast food and fast fashion, but I believe that art is supposed to break barriers and challenge the status quo.
The art of painting with natural lacquer requires skill and patience. There’s an old saying of “more haste, less speed.” I think my work is the exact epitome of those words. In my experience, a hasty mind ruins the work. It usually takes up to twenty applications of lacquer and then polishing it just to prepare the surface for the drawing itself. While I go through this tedious process, I remind myself of the beauty in the end result to keep driving me forward. I find painting with natural lacquer to very honest. It shows exactly how much effort I put into my work, no more, no less. The natural lacquer doesn’t lie either. It’s difficult for this reason but that’s what deepens the attraction for me. Now I find myself more straightforward with my work. The painting is created with natural lacquer, which is painstakingly extracted from lacquer trees. The material ossifies while responding to the seasons, weather, temperature, and humidity. So every batch of paint is different and has its own unique characteristics. I have to “listen” to the lacquer and respond to its characteristics with greater sensitivity, which I often ignored. I continue to communicate with my paintings from the moment my brush touches the surface and until I consider the work to be done. I’m constantly shaping and redefining this new world of art into my own.
" I remind myself of the beauty in the result of my work to keep driving me forward. I find painting with natural lacquer to be very honest. It shows exactly how much effort I put into my work. No more, no less. The natural lacquer doesn’t lie either."
by Insoo Chun
K&P Gallery is honored to present 'pureness' by artist Insoo Chun. Chun's paintings reminisce her past thoughts and occurrences. In order to do that Chun has used traditional techniques and has accentuated originality and uniqueness.
She creates impressive images with splendid colors throughout the entire painting from natural lacquers. Natural lacquers are made of organic sources. They are produced by a sap from a species of sumac trees called Rhus Vernicfera Stokes. Upon discovering and learning about this medium, Chun was captured by its' characteristics and uniqueness. The long and elaborate process of this work makes for her art to be that much more intricate and inspiring.
The title "Pureness" has come from her statement,
In the work she creates, everything is transparent and there are no lies. All of the layers she creates are easily shown by the pureness represented in her work. We hope this show will touch each individual, and inspire many in forms of purity and nostalgia.